Philadelphia Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky had better numbers than Ilya Bryzgalov last season, but contracts and expectations made Bobrovsky the odd man out. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Welcome, one and all, to the newest in a continuing – make that unending – series of THN mailbags. You’re all very nice for continuing to send in your questions come hell or high (frozen) water. And remember, if I don’t get to your question on the web, I may have answered it in our magazine or on The Hockey News Radio Show.
Adam, I'm a big Flyers fan and I was wondering why the Flyers got rid of Sergei Bobrovsky, when he played better than Ilya Bryzgalov last season?
Anthony Presto, Fosterburg, Ill.
There are two factors in the Flyers’ decision to unload Bobrovsky: the first, and biggest, is Bryzgalov’s mammoth and already untradeable contract that still has eight seasons to go. You can’t commit to Bobrovsky when you’re paying Bryzgalov more than $5.6 million a year.
But beyond that, it wasn’t as if Bobrovsky made Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren’s choice a difficult one. Although he at one point was considered the Flyers’ goalie of the future, Bobrovsky has consistently underwhelmed and his numbers last season (3.02 goals-against average, .899 save percentage) reflect that reality.
Fact is, unless there’s an amnesty opportunity in the next labor deal and Flyers owner Ed Snider wants to hand over a huge chunk of money to get Bryzgalov to go away, he’ll be Philly’s starter again.
Hey Adam: I’ve seen a recent list of the top-20 projected male Hockey Hall Of Famers for 2013. But who are the top female stars projected for the HHOF?
Paul Persin, Regina, Sask
Glad you asked that question, as I’ve been among those who are baffled by the HHOF’s unwillingness to induct any women the past two years after the first two (Angela James and Cammi Granato) broke that barrier in 2010. Given that the Hall can induct as many as four male players while still honoring two women per year, there’s really no excuse for not welcoming at least one new female member per year.
For example: you easily could induct Canadian legends Geraldine Heaney and Danielle Goyette, both of whom are members of the far more progressive International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. I’d also add Cassie Campbell-Pascall and France Saint-Louis on the players side, as well as dedicated behind-the-scenes executive Fran Rider in the builders category.
There are many more, though. And as the years go on and current stars such as Hayley Wickenheiser become eligible, the pressure on the HHOF to be more willing to induct women will only increase.
Hey Adam, can you give me an update on the Seattle arena situation? Last I heard, it has been approved, but how long will the project take? When will development begin?
Dan Cearns, Janetville, Ont.
It isn’t set in stone that a modern NBA/NHL arena in Seattle will be a reality. The most recent development has been the release by prospective owner Chris Hansen’s team of what the building might look like, but many expect it will take at least a year of city council meetings and reviews before shovels hit the ground.
Between now and then, any number of things could delay or derail the process. But there’s enough interest from the people of Seattle and businessmen like Hansen to make it happen. We’ll have to be patient to get to that point, though. And as Gary Bettman is fond of saying, there’s no guarantee a new arena will lead to a franchise from his league.
Adam, with contract rights and big-money, front-loaded deals being such a contentious part of the current labor dispute, I had a thought: in a few years could these contracts be used to help poorer teams get up to the cap floor without spending much money? Could a team load up with veteran leadership with $5 million cap hits making $1.5 million a year? Could the GM that figures this out become the NHL's answer to Billy Beane? Should I email this to Gary Bettman?
Brendan O'Rourke, Toronto
Good idea – so good, in fact, it has been in the minds of GMs through the recently expired collective bargaining agreement. In fact, if Bruins goalie Tim Thomas hadn’t melted down the past season and took a year sabbatical, there’s a good chance a team that needed to get up to the floor would have taken him. His salary cap hit is $5 million, but the actual amount of money he is owed is $3 million.
However, as an NHL source told me months ago, the fear of taking Thomas, then having him end his sabbatical and potentially disrupt a dressing room with his personal (and now public) politics, has made him an undesirable asset.
But beyond that individual situation, this type of scenario isn’t likely to present itself when the NHL returns to action. League brass and most owners want front-loaded deals abolished, because it gives big-market teams an unfair advantage. In other words, the opportunity to do this again may already be gone.